A Florida street performer who came north to perform in front of Faneuil Hall last year only to be herded into a small space with lots of other performers is asking a federal judge to rescind what he calls a violation of his First Amendment rights.
Bruce "Chance" Peck sued the city earlier this year in US District Court in Boston over Mayor Menino's decision in July, 2008 to restrict street performers alongside the Faneuil Hall building, because their noise was bothering Hizzoner up in his fifth-floor City Hall office.
Peck's lawsuit says Peck's performances could hardly be heard that high up:
In the summer of 2008, Peck performed as a human statue, namely, a golden cowboy. He wore a golden outfit and painted his skin gold. As part of his act, he struck various poses for the crowd's enjoyment.
His suit alleges:
On or about July 27, 2008, members of the Boston Police Department stopped Peck and other street performers from performing. Boston Police collected all the Dock Square street performers and ordered that they only perform in a 15-foot-by-15-foot-square area (the "Area").
Peck says the "Area" was unregulated and too crowded, with the result that performers, including him, were unable to exercise their First Amendment rights. The complaint adds:
Boston Police threatened to arrest anyone who performed outside of the Area. Boston Police also refused to tell Peck what law banned performance outside the Area. Peck was told all questions had to be referred to Boston City Hall. After going to Boston City Hall, and being sent to four different offices, Peck was again unable to obtain an answer.
In a reply to the complaint, the city denied anybody was ever ordered to stop performing on July 27, or on any days after that, and that therefore, no First Amendment violations occurred, but that if any did happen, they were not the city's fault, but rather Peck's own damn fault ("Defendant City of Boston states that the injuries alleged were caused by the plaintiff's own intentional conduct and not the conduct of defendant").
The case goes before Magistrate Judge Judith Gail Dein for a status conference on Nov. 4.